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Pillars of Roger’s Career: Seventeen-year old Roger; Lleyton; and Rafter 6

Posted on February 10, 2010 by Claudia Celestial Girl

Federer, with his coach the late Peter Carter, was just beginning his rise to the top in 1999.

Federer, with his coach the late Peter Carter, was just beginning his rise to the top in 1999.

We are going to start a series of articles that outline the stand-out matches of Roger Federer’s career.  The impetus of this series was a discussion of the Greatest Matches of the Decade – in which Roger was not mentioned very often.  We thought that perhaps it was time to review some of the stand-outs.  This article is the first of a series.

For this article I had to purchase the old match from 1999, and I must say, first I have to get a simple fan reaction out of the way.  After all, these are three of the best looking men to ever step on a tennis court!


OMG!  There’s Pat Rafter!  In his heyday!  There’s Lleyton Hewitt!  Always one of my favorites.  And there’s Roger Federer!  He’s just a lad!  It’s Rafter with the ponytail and Lleyton with a backwards baseball cap on. He was with the ponytail too. And Roger just has short hair (the Rafteresque ponytail would come later – see match with Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001.)

Roger’s neck is pencil thin.  His face isn’t filled out.  How cute he looks!

But the signs are there nonetheless.  There is it right in the middle of the second set: a breathtaking backhand.  The single-fisted backhand. Roger swings it for a lob that lands exactly in the corner. Perfect placement!   How often would we see that again later!

Rafter, at 27  years of age, is in his prime.  Rafter/Bjorkman are favored to win the match, and the commentators discuss how strange for the experienced pair to let youthful Hewitt and Federer get a set and a break on them, and take the first set to a tie-break.

Shortly after this Wimbledon appearance, Pat Rafter would be ranked #1 in the world (though he lost the singles’ semi-finals to Agassi).  And that year, the pair of Rafter and Bjorkman had won the doubles titles at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Roger’s Cup. Read the rest of this entry →

Repeating History: What Sampras-Rafter Can Teach Us About Nadal-Soderling 5

Posted on January 04, 2010 by Rob York
Could Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling develop the next great rivalry in tennis?

Could Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling develop the next great rivalry in tennis?

In 1997 Patrick Rafter won his first major at the US Open, thanks to his agile movement, big-kicking serve and unparalleled net coverage. Though this put him exactly nine majors behind Pete Sampras at that point in their careers, it was easy to begin wondering how the two would match up in future encounters.

Still, the two weren’t truly rivals yet; Sampras was 5-1 against the Australian at that point and would add three more lopsided victories over Rafter to his tally that fall. Plus, with the bulk of his accomplishments and the fact that he had a commanding lead in the race for No. 1, few could seriously claim that the two were players of equal stature.

To become a rival to Sampras, Rafter would have to beat the American, and take something he wanted.

That would come in 1998, when the Australian rallied from down a set to top Sampras at the Cincinnati Masters tourney. Sampras had already won Wimbledon that year, and Rafter’s successes for 1998 were just beginning; still, Sampras hungered for the points that event would bring him. He was pursuing the year-end ranking for the sixth consecutive year – a record – and Marcelo Rios was hot on his heels. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Sid Luckman: Chicago Bears Legend
      September 28, 2019 | 7:09 pm
      Sid Luckman

      After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

      Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

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